Fibroids, also called as uterine fibroids, leiomyomas, or myomas are non-cancerous tumors or cell masses that grow from the inner lining of the uterus. Fibroids are growths of smooth muscle, and can vary from a small size to a larger one.
The female reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone levels are high during the reproductive period. During pregnancy, the estrogen levels are high and the fibroids tend to swell up, while towards menopause phase the levels are low and the fibroids may start shrinking. Heredity or any family history of fibroids in close relatives may also be high risk factor of developing them.
Diagnosis of fibroids:
Most women are not aware about their fibroid conditions as the symptoms are rarely felt. However a Vaginal examination, an ultrasound, MRI, Hysteroscopypsy or Laparoscopy can detect the same.
For fibroids that do not have any symptoms or the ones that do not affect significantly, a treatment may not be necessary as with menopause the fibroids shrink automatically, and will either ease off or eventually disappear. In case of involvement of a treatment, it may be either in the form of medications or as a surgery.
Treating fibroids with medication:
GnRHA (gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist) injection: It reduces the production of estrogen in the body and shrinks the fibroids. GnRHA stops the menstrual cycle but does not affect fertility once treatment stops.
Other drugs that may be used are Anti-inflammatory drugs such as mefenamic and ibuprofen. These medications reduce the production of prostaglandins, which are normally associated with heavy periods. Oral contraceptives can also be prescribed to help regulate the ovulation cycle, and reduce heavy menstrual bleeding associated with fibroids when a woman is on her period. However, these medications are not effective for larger fibroids.
Surgery to treat fibroids:
A patient may have to undergo a surgery depending upon the symptoms and failure of medications. The following surgical procedures may be considered:
Hysterectomy – This is only considered if the fibroids are very large, or if the patient is bleeding too much. The uterus is removed in this procedure.
Myomectomy – This procedure s opted for women who wish to conceive further. The fibroids are surgically removed from the wall of the uterus.
Endometrial ablation – This procedure removes the lining of the uterus incase the fibroids are near the inner surface of the uterus.
Timely consultation with a gynecologist, avoiding foods such as red meats, alcohol, and caffeine and incorporating an increased intake of fruit and vegetables in your diet might reduce the risk of fibroids in women.